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The Romanoffs

Amazon’s new series from Mad Men creator Matt Weiner is a gorgeous work in progress.

The Romanoffs Amazon
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Don’t tune in to The Romanoffs — Amazon’s new anthology drama from Mad Men creator Matt Weiner — expecting a show as instantly self-assured as that AMC series was. Instead, Weiner has come up with a messy, sprawling thing that is gorgeous to look at, puzzling to ponder, and occasionally so full of itself that it plumps up into a perfectly round sphere and starts rolling down a hill toward oblivion.

But the more episodes of The Romanoffs you watch, the more its seemingly untenable premise — each episode follows a completely new set of characters who say they bear familial ties to the long deceased Romanoff dynasty of Russia — starts to make sense as a rumination on the moments in a society right before its collapse into revolution. The series is either eerily timely or unaware of its own complicity in the vast inequality of our modern era. Or maybe both. It’s more interesting than good at this point, but boy is it interesting.

“Even when [the episodes are] maddening — and they are more often than not — they feel startlingly, painfully real.” Caroline Framke, Variety

Metacritic score: 56 out of 100

Where to watch: New episodes of The Romanoffs debut Fridays on Amazon Video.

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